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Shine a Light – February 13, 2020

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Hello! My name is Kalie, and today I have the privilege of sharing a snapshot of our day. I want to start by saying that today, February 13, is Shine a Light on Slavery Day!  How fitting for the End It Movement’s special day that we are in India on one of the many days we are surrounded by women who have been rescued from human trafficking or are still victims in human trafficking. I can’t help but thank God for allowing our trip to fall on this day.

Today was a good day. Long, but oh so sweet. It all started at 4:50AM when my alarm went off for the service at Mother House (former home of Mother Teresa), which starts every morning at 6:00AM on the dot. After the service and during their prayer time, we quietly exited the room because our schedule was very tight today and could not be late to board the bus for our next destination. However, when we left, the front gate doors were locked, leaving our team stunned and puzzled. Suddenly, a nun approached us with the keys and long story short, we were yelled at by a nun in a whisper voice. It was something we will never forget. We quickly walked back to the BMS and of course, had to stop for a 2 minute chai tea stop!

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After a bus ride to another part of the city, we walked about six minutes down a road in the Udayan Pally village where New Hope School is located. New Hope is a school that allows the poorest children in the village to attend school and receive an education. There were children as young as 3 ½ years old all the way to 14 years old.

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We had a science lesson about electrical engineering by our very own electrical engineer on the team, Stephanie! She taught the kids wonderful things about static and electric energy, and then the kids participated in the coolest experiment! They each received a balloon and rubbed it vigorously in their hair, hovered it over a plate full of salt and pepper, and watched the pepper quickly rise to the balloon. The kids were overjoyed and wide eyed at the experiment! Then, they made butterflies as seen in the pictures and used the energy from the balloon to flap the wings! One child in my group asked “Gum?” and pointed to the paper for the butterfly to be placed on, so I asked him why he needed gum. He replied by showing me a gesture to show he needed gum to glue the paper down. This really tugged on my heart strings. We take so much for granted in America, even the simplicity of a glue stick.

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Next, Stephanie taught the kids about circuits and each group built circuits by using a snap kit. They were able to see how the electricity flowed through the circuit to make the lightbulb turn on and the fan blow. Each time these happened, they would cheer loudly and clap with happiness. Stephanie really did an outstanding job planning the school lessons! Stay tuned for the description of the experiment tomorrow!

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At the end of the school day, the children all lined up in 5 single file lines for chapel. Deanna gave a devotional about how we are lights for Jesus and a life without Jesus is darkness. The kids all prayed together and it was a sweet moment seeing them praying to Jesus.

Next, we hopped on the bus to travel to Mahima Ashaloy! This is a community center for women who live in Sonagachi, one of (if not THE) largest red light districts in south Asia. They have weekly medical checks, counseling, dance therapy, music therapy, just to name a few. Here, Danae and I spoke about anger and stress management and healthy ways to cope when feeling angry. This really resonated with the women and about half of them opened up with personal stories from their friends and families. They asked good questions asking for advice and I believe they took away important coping mechanisms. After this, the women made tassle earrings and had a blast. Our dear friends and translators, Zeenat and Anita, were a huge help today helping us communicate with about 30 women on the terrace. Of course, they blessed us with chai and samosas which were delicious.

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To wrap up a very good but long day, our team had dinner at an American owned coffee shop and café named 8th Day which was delicious. On the way from Ashaloy to dinner, my mind circled thoughts about the day. I’m amazed at several of the women’s faith after all they have been through, they’re still trusting that God has great plans for them, which He promises in Jeremiah 29:11. As for me, I’m having difficulty believing God has great plans because of recent events in my personal life, even though I know it to be true. It’s amazing how some of these ladies and all of the staff are so strong. It truly blows my mind.  Our God is doing great things here in Kolkata, the city of Joy. Please keep praying for the people here who are living in darkness away from Jesus!

Blessings,

Kalie

Touching His Robe – February 12, 2020

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My name is Sterling Greene and I am the guest blogger on tonight’s Kolkata Go Beyond blog!

This is my fourth trip to Kolkata and my ninth mission trip with Kingsland. If there is one thing I have taken away from all my travels, it is that a smile means the same in every language. A smile can go a long way between two people who do not speak the same language. So I smile a lot, because I only speak one language!

Today we spent the day with Destiny Foundation at two different locations.   Destiny was established about ten years ago.  Their mission is to empower women that have been trafficked by teaching them job skills.

The Destiny women are always so happy to see us! We have continued to go year after year, and as a result we have built relationships with them because of our consistency. When we enter the facility it is always such a precious time as we have all longed to see each other. We are always welcomed with huge hugs and joyful smiles.

I had the privilege to share the Bible story about the bleeding woman from Mark 5:21-34, and Danae shared her testimony. The women were intrigued. The majority of the women at Destiny are not Christians, but they are always so receptive to us and the words we speak about Jesus. They always have so many questions and amazing discussion. They always bless us with their questions and their desire to want to know more.  Today after the story, one girl asked, “I wish Jesus were still alive so I could touch his robe and He could heal me.”  That swung the door WIDE OPEN for a conversation about how OUR GOD is not dead.  He is alive and active and working in our lives every day.  When we speak to Him, He hears us.  He sees every tear that falls. These women sometimes feel forgotten by their gods that they worship as Hindu followers.  What a contrast!

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After our Bible time and testimony, we taught them how to make threaded earrings.  And of course we have our signature activity, pedicures! Feet are a big deal here and no one wants their feet touched. It is a cultural taboo that 1. They feel like they are sinning by having their feet touched and 2. Someone younger washing the feet of an older person is not okay. So many ladies were uncomfortable having their feet washed and cleaned today, but they allowed us to bestow our crazy American ways on them. It was such an amazing day full of so much love. 

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Ten years ago, I would have told you I would NEVER go to India! NEVER! It was the last place on earth I ever wanted to go. Today, I can tell you it is my second home. The hospitality of the Indian culture is such a heart warming quality that we as Americans have lost. I have a family here that is always welcoming. This city of Kolkata is amazing and full of so much good that we tend to forget because of the great darkness, but our God is BIG and is in the business of transforming hearts with His crazy love.

A New Journey

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Our team is ready and excited to begin our journey to India. This is our first time for our women’s justice team to travel to India’s capital. Our work will be a bit different than what we do in Kolkata, but very closely related.

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Our women’s justice team will be traveling to New Delhi and Punjab to work with a partner that is proactively working to champion the rights of Indian girls and women. It has been said that the three most dangerous words in India are “It’s a girl.” Killing girl children just after birth and female fetacide is on the rise in India as girls are thought of as a burden on their families. Rape and violent crimes against women are also becoming more prevalent – a result of the devaluation of females.

Decades of sex-selective abortion have created an acute lack of women in certain parts of India. Traffickers capitalize on the shortage by recruiting or kidnapping women ensnared in poverty to sell as brides. It’s a cycle influenced by poverty and medical technologies, but one that ultimately is perpetuated by India’s attitude towards women.” – Carl Gierstorfer CNN

Our team will be educating teens and young women about the sanctity of life, living a life of purity and approaching the issue of gendercide from a Biblical world view. We will also be conducting a VBS for orphans, visiting the daughters of lepers and pampering women of extreme poverty that are a part of Disha’s vocational training center.

Our team:
Kay Smith
Kaytlin Norman
Mary Whittington
Rona Lee
Jana Soroski
Ruth Soroski
Rachael Soroski
Melissa Crowder
Sterling Greene
Christina Crane

Thank you for praying for our team and following along on this journey with us,

As it happens when women travel together we tend to talk a lot. Our wait in the Houston airport was filled with fun chatter and getting to know one another. A funny thing we found out was that lots of us feel like we need to expand our vocabulary. So we decided that we will pick a new word each day and use it…today our word (from Jana) is perspicacious- to have a ready insight or understanding of things. I guess that is a perfect word to begin the journey.